Intolerance, intimidation, incompetence and irresponsibility.
The four I’s have been a hallmark of the extreme-right faction running the Kansas Statehouse since Gov. Sam Brownback took office in 2011.
The governor’s intolerance was evident in 2012, when he worked to sideline Republican legislators who wouldn’t blindly follow his ultraconservative agenda.
Intimidation became the rule as the Brownback-led regime went on to bully lawmakers and others who dared to question its ideology.
As for incompetence, consider the epic 2012 blunder on tax policy.
That truly disturbing show of ineptitude saw Brownback’s side estimate his radical income-tax cuts would leave 191,000 small businesses paying no income taxes.
They had no idea more than 330,000 business entities would take advantage — so far. Beneficiaries of the tax cuts also did not use their savings to create jobs, as the governor promised.
Add in the even bigger amount of lost personal income taxes also delivered by Brownback’s tax reform, and the state has faced consistently staggering budget shortfalls.
Not surprisingly, some Republican lawmakers who supported the reckless tax policy now claim they didn’t understand the particulars. They didn’t because they simply took marching orders from corporate-friendly, special-interest groups pushing the ill-advised “March to Zero” income taxes.
The result? A state desperate to make ends meet saw raids on funds for the poor and disabled, public schools, children’s assistance, highways and other vital programs. So much for the “shot of adrenaline” to the economy Brownback predicted.
Kansas’ economic future instead is gloomy due to excessive borrowing. The governor still would rather accumulate more crippling debt than restore any income-tax revenue. That’s irresponsible — the fourth I.
So, legislators grappling with the latest budget mess — and scrambling to save their political lives — are focused on eliminating the business-tax break that’s angered many Kansans.
They know doing so wouldn’t generate nearly enough revenue to fill the massive budget holes, but could help them get re-elected. They also want to distance themselves from an ally now considered the nation’s least popular governor.
Kansans shouldn’t be fooled, and should end the intolerance, intimidation, incompetence and irresponsibility by ousting lawmakers who willingly helped Brownback force his ruinous economic agenda on the state.